Castles in Wales

Often referred to as the 'Land of Castles', Wales ranks up there with the likes of Bulgaria and Austria for the highest concentration of castles in Europe. Including the ruinous forts, sunken mottes and vanished strongholds; it is believed there were once over 400 castles in Wales. Of the 170 catalogued castles still standing, only about a hundred remain intact enough to be able to walk around, and absorb the mythical, medieval heritage that has shaped this small isle.


Conwy castle - flckr - alh1Conwy Castle, Aberconwy and Colwyn, North Wales
Rising majestically from the hills of Clwyd, Conwy Castle still stands as proud and intimidating a fortress, as she was intended by Edward I, in 1283. Conwy is one of Wales' best surviving examples of medieval architecture, with eight towers connecting an unusual rectangular plan. Yet it is only once you enter Conwy, that you really get an impression of it's size. The best vantage point has to be from one of the pinnacled towers. Its from here you can truly appreciate the sprawling labyrinthine corridors; the great hall; the bastions, and the views across the harbour.   Holiday cottages North Wales


Caernarfon Castle - flckr - MousyBoyWithGlassesCaernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, North Wales
Occupying a coastal peninsula on the Menai Strait, Caernarfon is yet another of the super-fortresses which made up Edward I's 'Iron Belt' during the 13th Century - a time when the wrangle for power over Wales was at it's most prominent. Unlike many of Wales' imposing structures, Caernarfon was built more for occupancy than defense, which is distinctly evident in the grandeur and elegance of the architecture. The King's Gate is considered to be the finest example of a medieval entrance, designed for defence. With walls in excess of 10 feet thick; the remains the castle opening,would have featured 6 portcullises, and 5 doors between the inner ward, and the castle bridge.


Raglan Castle. - flckr - mellen_petrichRaglan Castle, Gwent
Often nicknamed the 'Red Castle' due to the sunset hue of it's sandstone structure, Raglan is like no other fortress in Wales, chiefly because of it's distinct Tudor styling. The castle is actually of early 12th Century origin, however it was Earl of Pembroke - Sir William Herbert, who in 1426, commenced much of the work that gives Raglan the distinctive features seen today. The Great Hall and Long Gallery are the best preserved rooms, with huge Renaissance fireplaces and carved stone-work remaining largely intact. Raglan is also worthy of a visit if you are interested in Tudor history, since Henry VII spent much of his youth here.  Cottages in Gwent.


Pembroke Castle ramparts - flckr - Phil GuestPembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire
Few will be aware the mighty Norman stronghold that sits upon the coast of Pembroke, South West Wales, is actually the birthplace of Henry VII, the first of the notable Tudor monarchs. In terms of historic significance, Pembroke was at the centre of unrest during the 15th Century civil war. As a result, Pembroke was the scene of a seven week siege at the hands of Cromwell himself, and eventually succumbed to the attack when the water was shut off!

Evidence of Cromwell's devastating attack on the stronghold can still be viewed today. What is left of both the Barbican, and the frontier towers still stand as a reminder to the Welsh of wrongful alliance. Pembroke's keep, curtain wall, inner towers and wards all remain intact, and allow a fascinating insight into one of Wales' oldest surviving Norman fortresses, whose dungeons are said to be the most haunted of all Welsh castles. .



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